How to deal with pain and suffering as a Christian


Many years I am coming already to the Czech Republic to teach about how to have a deep connection with God and how to live in His Presence: how God wants to restore us by Inner Healing and also by healing of our body;  how Jesus shows us who God is in His goodness and love for us and that we may receive wholeness in Christ

I noticed that many persons have questions about why people suffer. There is a lot of suffering in our world and persons start often with telling about suffering: so many refugees, so many persons died  from cancer, people are suffering so much pain, so much loneliness and so on. What can we answer?  We read in the bible (see.f.i. psalm 136: vs 1) and believe that God is good and that He wants all the best for us. Jesus came to show us God’s love and He healed people with pain in their soul and in their body.  But often people cannot receive this answer. They suffer theirselves too much from pain, they do not have a good image of God or are not really interested in Him.

For me it took also many years to understand that God did everything to reach me by His love, that He sent Jesus to us to make God known. The problem was that I could not receive from Him. I needed not only to open my intellect and ask Him to come with His Presence in my mind but I needed also to open my heart, my feeling life for Him and to understand that He wanted to come to me by the power of the Holy Spirit and give me His joy, peace, rest, trust, comfort in my feeling life and to give me what else I needed.                                                                                                                                     

 I learned that God’s Presence comes when we cry out for His help. I had this experience when my husband needed to go by ambulance to another hospital when his operation had failed. He had pain and was in fear and I took his hand, sitting beside him in the ambulance and prayed that God’s peace would come to him in Jesus’ name,  and that happened. He received deep peace and trust that God was with Him. He was not alone.

My story of how I dealt with pain and suffering.                                                                                 

 I have been ill for years (2013 -2015)  and I will share about this time with you. I had pain in my body and  after a very dangerous operation in my belly, followed by a long stay in the intensive care, I suffered also almost two years with a mental illness. I was in a very deep depression.                                                                            

When I got back my health my granddaughter (17) came to me and sat down  very near to me and asked me: Grandma do you still believe in God?  I told her: Yes, I believe in God,   for He carried me through all these bad illnesses I had to go through. He helped me also by so many persons who were with me in these hard times and came to visit me and prayed and encouraged me or sent me a card. This was enough for her. She wanted to hear me saying: yes or no.                                                                                                                                           

So many persons blame God for the suffering in this world!  It is such a pity that often we do not understand that God is longing to be with us in our suffering. I read in Exodus 3:7,8:  The Lord said to Moses:’I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slavedrivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land  into a good and spacious land.  In vs 10 He said to Moses: ‘So now, go, I will be with you’.. Moses had to learn to cooperate with God  and that is also something that we need to learn. There are so many promises in the bible:  God sees us, He is concerned about us and He hears us when we cry. Psalm 147:3: ‘ God heals the broken hearted and binds up their wounds.’                                                                                                                                                                      

My story.

In June 2013 my physiotherapist saw a small spot on my left arm. She was pushing me to go to the doctor and told me that she would not treat me until I had seen the doctor. So I went to the doctor and the doctor made an appointment for me within three days with a dermatologist. She examined me and told me that I had an agressive melanoma and she proposed to operate me as soon as possible: two days later. I told her that we would be on our holidays at that time and would go to Greece.    She told me to cancel my holidays. I did this  and she operated me. A week later I came to her;  she told me that they had found a malignant melanoma and she gave me an  introduction for a hospital specialized in the treatment of skincancer. In this hospital they examined my blood because they had fear that bad cells had come into my blood and- praise God- my blood was good and a second surgery in my arm followed;  this time they could remove enough and no more bad cells were found. What a tension gave all these things. Cancer is really a bad disease because you often have no pain, it comes totally unexpected and you loose control about your life. We all know how difficult it is to be in a unsecure situation where you lose control. Then we need comfort, trust and hope.

 I saw the Lords protection over me that the physiotherapist had seen this bad spot and that my doctor found so quickly a dermatologist. Otherwise I had gone on holidays and what could have happened then? I was just in time so that they could remove the bad cells.                                         

When I went again to the hospital for control they found a suspicious spot on my face and after some tests it seemed to be malicious. It was a big place and there was a consultation what to do:  radiation or an operation; they decided that  it had to be an operation. They took a part of the skin of my leg and placed that into the wound in my face.. A second operation was still necessary but then I was clean. We were so full of joy and thankfullnes.

What was helping me during that time: reading in the bible;  ps 139:5 : ‘You hem me in behind and before, you have laid your hand upon me.’ My husband read this often for me and before bedtime  he blessed me and laid his hand upon me and blessed me with the good words that God speaks to us. That He is protecting us and wants to save us. So many times we read the word ‘hand’ in the bible.                                                                                                                    

Psalm 138 says in vs 7: ‘Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.’ I needed to hear the words from the bible: Gods promises, to feel a hand upon my head or my hands in the hands of a friend or the arms of my husband or a friend around me which gave me a sense of security.                                                                                               

I learned, during the time of being ill with this aggressive form of skincancer, to practice in a deeper way the principles of Inner Healing: listening to God, practice His Presence by the Holy Spirit, trusting God and expecting His help, using our Godly imagination, putting central the cross of Jesus and His resurrection, and so on.

In my church they prayed for me and I got the flowers of the sundayservice. Some friends had a lot of faith and they proclaimed Gods Healing Presence over me. I could lean on Him..

One friend told me: I received a word from God that He says: I will take care for her. It seemed such a simple word but these words happened to be very important for me, even when my friend was very busy that time and had no time to visit me, but I knew she prayed for me. I started to expect the Lords care and saw Him caring for me on many ways by small things: by receiving a joyful card, a phonecall, a tender gesture from my husband, a mail, a gift for the work in Prague, someone sent me a song on You tube,  and so on. My eyes were opened for that care of Him…..a great gift!                                                                                  1 Peter 5: 7 says: Cast all your anxiety on Him (God) for He cares for you.

I learned more and more to rely on Gods promises that He cares for me and will give me what I need in every situation. In this way we become not dependant of persons,  though we need them;  that was a deep lesson also for my work as  a pastoralcare worker. God will also take care for the people I took care for, even when  I could not be there for them during a long time.

In the beginning of december the wound in my face and on my leg were almost healed. Then on the 4th of december 2013 I got awfully pains in my belly in the middle of the night. An ambulance came and I got a bed in the hospital where they examined me. It took some time but then they found out that I had ileus - the intestines were blocked-  and I had to be operated immediately;  lateron I heard that my intestines were in a very bad condition and that the doctors were fighting for my life. I was brought  in the intensive care and they kept me several days in coma. I stayed in the intensive care department for 11 days. This was a traumatic time for me, for I was not completely informed why I needed so much care. I was confused and in fear. After these days I was taken to a room with 3 other persons who all were suffering from infections. As soon as possible I was sent home on 23th december because they were afraid that I should get infections too.

We all were so happy that I was at home; I was very weak, my bed was in the livingroom. But we could celebrate Christmas together (2013).  But soon we found that I was mentally ill. I could not bear light or sound and was very afraid; always thinking of death and making preparations for everything around my funeral. I had thoughts that were not real. My doctor advised a psychiatrist and I got help from a psychiatrist. I was mentally ill and in a deep depression. He tried different therapymethods and gave me medicines.

My husband and our 3 children did their utmost to help me to stay at home during 20 months. My daughter came every Saturday to help me and she cooked for us and my husband had then a day free. Every Sundayafternoon my eldest son came and our youngest son came when we needed him.                                                                                                                                              

It is important to know that depression is an illness. My daughter told me later: you were sitting at the bottom of a well. You were often not friendly and could even be hostile to me. That had nothing to do with what happened: it had all to do with myself. My daughter told that it was very important for her not to expect anything from me.                                                                                                                   

 I had friends who visited me. Many persons had no idea how to deal with me. I just sat there in my chair and most of the time I did some crochet work. I understood  that mental illness is a taboo topic, especially among Christians. Even my pastor, who visited me,  did not know how to deal with me and said: ‘You always were such a woman of faith, where is your faith now?’  I had no idea if and how I could be healed. I could not have any good feeling;  only fear and I was afraid.  It was a very hard time without joy or peace or rest.                                                                                                                                       

My daughter organised that almost every afternoon a friend came to visit me.. It helped me when they behaved normal to me and told me something about theirselves. Often they asked me if I had a favourite part in the bible and they read that for me. I had two friends who believed very strongly in my healing: the same friends who had faith for my healing from cancer. They held me in their arms and comforted me. They told me that our Lords name is the Healer and that they believed in my healing. That gave me hope while not many persons believed in my healing. What also helped me was that  they took my hands in theirs, so to have connection. There I was longing for: to have connection. I could not bear sound, light (of TV) and external stimuli. Also visits I could not bear longer than 15 or 20 minutes.

What also was helping me: my friends Eddy and Ineke came from time to time and told about the work in Czech Republic. They took care that conferences could continue under the leading of the new Czech Foundation for Inner Healing called ‘ Immanuel’. They told me that the  ministry of Inner Healing was developing and that people in Czech Republic  prayed for me.

What also was helping me was to write down the prayers that friends were praying for me. Lateron I could pray that for myself. When I was preparing this article I found some notes with prayers from this time. I give two prayers.

1.      Tony, the Kingdom of heaven has come. It is in you. Jesus heals you and works in you. Let Him work in you and find rest in Him. Let Him hold you in His arms and let Him take care for you. Let His breath, His life go to those places where is pain, fear and confusion. Let Him do what is good for you and trust Him.


2.      Lord let every day be a celebration of deeper recovery. Tony, you will become what you are:  a strong, joyful and energetic women, Amen. Sometimes my friends sung a song during the  prayer and I loved that .


 In Isaiah 53:8 we read: He (Jesus) was cut off from the land of the living. I also felt so: I did not know how to live. I could not feel: no joy for instance, everything was grey. It was as if I sat in prison and could not go out. Now I understand that my soul could not feel life. I tried things: for example I went with my husband to the church on Sunday and sat in the back of the church. But after 15 minutes I became so restless that we went out. The same happened when we went to a restaurant to have a coffee. I wanted to leave and go home. I was so in fear.

20 months passed without any progress. Then the psychiatrist told me: I cannot do anything more for you, I tried everything what I know and you followed also therapy with colleagues of me and nothing was succesfull.   I was brought to a psychiatric hospital. I got there a lovely room for myself and belonged to a group of 10 persons. During daytime we had different forms of therapy, we ate together and we joined in  the big grouproom.

After 3 weeks of investigation my family was invited to come to the hospital to look at a film about treatment with elektroshocks. Everyone agreed with these treatments for me and I myself also accepted this.  In 5 weeks I got 9 elektroshocks. I got this under anesthesia.The miracle happened:  I got back my own personality; my youngest son visited me after 4 shocks and said: I have got my mother back.

8 december 2015 I came home. I got back the good feelings: joy, peace, rest. I received life! Of course I needed last year (2016) to continue to receive deeper healing and I followed creative therapy. I made a butterfly and I gave it the title: I am back!  I was alive again! I needed to train my muscles and got physiotherapy; also I got in october a new hip. I needed to take 10 drivinglessons before I felt at ease again in our car. It is October 2017. I can now say: I am healthy again: soul and body!         

How do I look back to this time of recovery? I can tell you: I feel no shame about this time being so mentally ill. Everyone can come in such a situation. We made the best of it and my familymembers were great in their care for me. Most of all I thank God that He healed me by all the prayers, by so many people who helped me and loved me and by all the treatments.  I was told that a part of my brain had been blocked by traumatic events and through the electroshocks there came an opening so that I could connect again with all the good words that people had said to me and prayed for me so that I could receive God’s healing.

Yes,  as a Christian you can have many troubles but our Lord hears us, sees us and is concerned about us. That is sure. I know that not everybody is healed,  but Jesus wants to be with us in every situation with His Presence and to help us to deal with the pain and despair.                                                       

 In Romans 8:28 is written: ‘And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.’ I wondered what this could mean for me. Can I say yes to this verse? Yes, I can say yes to this verse. I can so much more enjoy to live! My husband and I got a deep relationship and we can laugh much together. With all our three children our relation is more filled with love. And it is great that also my friends came to see me and accepted me instead of my unfriendly behaviour during the depression.. I learned that I need not to do my best to be loved but can be just myself and live more in peace now. I  trust God more and embrace life.

 I would like to say something more about hope and dealing with pain.

 Pain is a signal and a warning to us that something needs our attention.We may pray and ask Jesus to come into our pain, into our wounds. He wants to share our pain and wounds and to bring His healing there.

C.S Lewis wrote that pain is God’s megaphone. Pain has something to say to you. Something needs attention. You can have pain and suffer by what happened in your life .                                                 

 I got a testemony of a girl. She wrote me that she had much pain after a lecture about hatred against women. Her father made her always feel small and he laughed at her. He could not deal with emotions and when she showed her emotions he argued with her and minimised her emotions. She went during a conference to a pastoral person: a man. He listened to her, he put his arm around her and prayed while he laid his hand on her forehead.She saw in his eyes compassion for all what men did wrong to women; for her what her father did to her. His eyes were friendly and he treated her respectfully. Lateron he prayed for her for new images of men. And he came also to chat with her. She wrote me that she has now more a sense of security and of confidence.  Important was that this man reflected in a very special way God the Father for her.

How can we- as persons- react on pain?                                                                                            

Important is to direct our attention on God:  He promises us to be with us with His Presence. But  people can also turn away from God in their distress and be embittered or stuck in the question: why or how could this happen?  .                                                                                                                             

When I prayed listening to God,  a verse from Isaiah came: vs 61: 1: The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me,  3,4 to comfort all who mourn and provide for those who grieve in Zion- to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.

Hope by Vaclav Havel                                                                                                                        

Hope is a state of mind, not a state of the world
Either we have hope within us or we don’t.
Hope is not a prognostication—it’s an orientation of the spirit.
You can’t delegate that to anyone else.

Hope in this deep and powerful sense is not the same as joy
when things are going well,
or the willingness to invest in enterprises
that are obviously headed for early success,
but rather an ability to work for something to succeed.

Hope is definitely NOT the same as optimism.
It’s not the conviction that something will turn out well,
but the certainty that something makes sense,
regardless of how it turns out.

It is hope, above all, that gives us strength to live
and to continually try new things,
even in conditions that seem as hopeless as ours do, here and now.
In the face of this absurdity, life is too precious a thing
to permit its devaluation by living pointlessly, emptily,
without meaning, without love, and, finally, without hope.

Naděje podle Václava Havla                                                                                                           

Naděje je stav mysli, ne stav světa. Buď máme naději v našem nitru, nebo ji nemáme.
Naděje není předpovídání – je to orientace ducha. Nemůžete jí delegovat
na někoho jiného.

Naděje určitě není totéž co optimismus.
Není to přesvědčení, že něco dobře dopadne, ale jistota, že něco dává smysl nehledě na to, jak to dopadne.

Je to především naděje, jež nám dává sílu žít a stále se pokoušet o nové věci, dokonce i v situacích, které vypadají beznadějně, jako ty naše, zde a nyní.

Tváří v tvář této absurditě je život vzácnou věcí, která nám dovoluje jeho znehodnocení tím, když žijeme nesmyslně, prázdně, bezvýznamně, bez lásky a s konečnou platností bez naděje.

Tony Kalma, October 2017  email: